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Diwali Gifting: Mithai Vs Chocolates

It’s Diwali time again. Diwali in India is the “mother” of all festivities also termed as the festival of lights. Everyone gets into a gifting frenzy. The newspaper pages double up with the advertisements. People hit the market scouting for the perfect gift. While Mithai has continued to dominate the Diwali gifting market many new options have also emerged like chocolates, cookies, cakes, fruit juices, dry fruits to name a few. So which makes the best options as a Diwali gift in Jaipur?

Read What makes Jaipur one of the best places to celebrate Diwali in Jaipur?

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Mithai or Traditional Indian sweets

While we have many new gifting ideas something never changes like the box of Indian sweets called “Mithai” in Hindi. It is an age-old practice to gift family, friends, employees, business associates, and customers on Diwali. Sweets have always been a part of the Indian culture signaling happy and joyous occasions and a sweet box is the most popular thing to gift. There is a huge variety to choose from in the market and every region has its own specialty. There’s one for every budget.

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In many parts of  India, you are never far from a sweet shop; you can find it in every nook and corner.

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On the flip side, the traditional sweet shops have become infamous for selling spurious quality during the festive season. A lot of these shops prepare sweets 2-3 weeks before the festive season and put them in cold storage since the manufacturing cannot keep pace with the demand. Adulteration too is a big menace. Indian sweets have a short shelf life lasting anywhere from 2-3 days to a week. Because of this many people started exploring other options.

Chocolates

Sensing a huge opportunity in the sweet market, Cadbury’s, a multinational chocolate brand which was acquired by Mondelez a few years ago, made a shift in its marketing plans to target the Mithai buyers with a campaign targeting adults. It was called “Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye” (Let’s have something sweet). The idea was to get everyone to eat chocolates and not just kids. The chocolate companies created advertisements to target the Diwali gifting market since it is the biggest gifting occasion in India.

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You can find chocolate boxes to suit every budget starting from Rs. 100 to a few thousand Rupees. People looking for exclusivity have an option of premium international brands or homemade gourmet chocolates. Many chocolatiers in Jaipur generate whooping business during the festive season despite the fact they run from home & rely on business through word of mouth publicity.

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Is chocolate really a great alternative to counter the spurious Mithai quality? A leading chocolate maker was involved in a court case & controversy a few years ago. Their chocolates were infested with worms. It took years to restore the trust of customers. It is not necessary that commercial chocolates produced in industrial plants offer a better alternative.

Have you ever wondered chocolate producers often use hydrogenated oil instead of cocoa butter, the main ingredient of chocolate? Palm oil is a common substitute for cocoa butter and has a harmful effect on our health. It is trans fat and raises LDL and cholesterol. Most chocolate manufacturers add emulsifiers & artificial flavors to cut the manufacturing processes and costs.

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Dry Fruits

Assorted dry fruit gift boxes are one of the most popular festive gifting options. Many people feel that the sheer number of Mithai boxes one receives in a short festive period makes it difficult to consume the same and therefore people switched to gifting dry fruit packs in spite of it being expensive. One of the biggest advantages is that it is considered as a premium gift and liked by all.

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Assorted Platter is a great savior because it includes a variety of things like cookies, fruit juices, savories, chocolates, sweets to name a few. On the flip side, it has mostly packaged food. There is a set of people who choose processed food over Mithai because they feel it denotes standard and has a fixed price so no one doubts the quality & value of a gift. The biggest benefit of the assorted platter is you can add-on things if you want to increase the value of the gift which is not possible if you are only gifting one item.

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Which is the best Diwali gift among all these? 

The elderly will never enjoy a box of chocolate. Today’s generation is an exception because they grew up eating chocolates. So the key is to match the profile of a person with the gift.

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Chocolates are most preferred among kids and youth; Mithai among the old and elderly. An assorted gift platter that includes a variety of things for everyone is a great Diwali gift for the family. Assorted dry fruit pack is a good option for diabetics and people who dislike sweets in any form. Cookies and fruit juices are yet not popular and are best reserved for the assorted platter.

If you already know someone’s preference you have the answer!

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While shopping for Diwali gifts, I asked a popular seller in Jaipur – Is Mithai more popular or the new age options? He said Mithai will continue to be popular for years.

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Do fancy gifting options evoke the same festive feelings that a traditional Mithai does on Diwali?

In my opinion, strong associations get formed over time. The way Santa Claus is associated with gifts so is Diwali with sweets. One can say these are age-old practices and hard to break off.

I prefer to stay away from the traditional sweets sold in the market during the festive season and prefer home-made ones which are better in every way. There are few enterprises that make Mithai in order in Jaipur. They are a good alternative to the commercial sweet shops & deliver consistent taste & quality, every time. Personally, I don’t think chocolates are symbolic of the “festival of lights”. It just does not evoke a feeling of festivity. But I guess we all have our own choices.

What will be your preferred Diwali gift? According to you, what elicits a festive feeling?

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Read What makes Jaipur one of the best places to celebrate Diwali in Jaipur?

 

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101 thoughts on “Diwali Gifting: Mithai Vs Chocolates

    1. Diwali is celebrated with enthusiasm. You should visit Jaipur on Diwali at least once, Yamini. Given our customs, we usually don’t travel on Diwali and spend time at home with family. There are exceptions though like Gujaratis who visit Jaipur during Diwali. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Visiting your blog after a long time, Arvind. But, it always feels great to stop by and see your wonderful posts. This one brings back fond memories of my Jaipur days, and savouring the sweets from LMB! We’ve always had the tradition of homemade sweets made by mom every year during our Vijaya Dashami festivities and then again during Diwali. But while in Jaipur, it was also important to gift our friends and neighbours with sweets. And then, we had to bank on our neighbourhood sweet shop who used to make the most mouth-watering sweets that I and my brother absolutely loved! Chocolates can never take the place of traditional sweets but as you say, if the shops are selling substandard stuff, (gone past their best before dates), then, one has no other option but to go for chocolates or dry fruits. Personally, for me, dry fruits are the best bet because they can be used for a much longer period and are safe even if packaged earlier.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Happy to see you here, Esha, as you already mentioned after a long time. I know you are super busy. I’m glad that it rekindled your memories of Jaipur Diwali. Diwali is about Mithai, for sure. I agree that nothing can beat home made Mithai and dry fruit comes next. Many years ago, during my visit to Bangalore, a famous Mithai shop mentioned (discreetly) that they start making sweets some twenty days before Diwali and store it. I guess you just can’t trust what you buy in market and that holds true even for the raw materials. Personally, I never had a great experience with LMB, but who can deny that it is a very popular place among tourists. I guess you should visit Jaipur during Diwali. I’m sure it will bring back all the happy memories. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A thought provoking post. Definitely foreign companies are targeting Indian festivals with their products. We have many festivals and a large population. Growing up in Eastern part of India, I was not used to the concept of sending gift packages. Coming to north India, I have seen the idea of sending mithai packages. Given the market size, disease like diabetes on the map, other options are being tapped. True, sweets are adulterated at times, they are prepared in advanced, the same can be said of chocolates also. Do we really check expiry date of chocolates we buy? In the season of give and the season of happiness, as many alternatives we have better it is.

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    1. Very valid points. There is a general perception that has developed in our country that anything that’s made in factory and packed is better and guarantees quality. In reality, this is ill founded. Time and again, we all have seen how a multinational chocolate company became infamous for worms in their products. Similarly, pesticides in cola company drastically reduced consumption in India forcing them to launch non-cola based product to survive. The bottom-line is that everything sold on a commercial basis cannot be relied because humans can’t be trusted due to opportunistic & profit making tendencies. I doubt anyone cares to read ingredients or packaging date in our country. At the same time, there is no authenticity of what companies write. I think the whole concept of buying gift is fuelled by consumerism. What’s your opinion?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree that giving gift during Diwali is driven by consumerism. I do not necessarily see it as wrong. This culture has been existing for long even in India. Western India always produced businessmen. In business community giving gifts, specially during Diwali, is not frowned upon. Eastern India, this practice of gift giving was not as prevalent. During my growing up years, I have not seen a lot of gift being exchanged in the circles we moved in. But at the end of a certain festival people would visit and will be treated with sweets, usually home made ones. Times have changed. Now every festival is celebrated with gusto, with cards, with gifts. Variety of gifts have also increased. Like all Indian halwai is not a paragon of honesty or emblem of dishonesty, neither are multinationals. Yes some products have been found to be contaminated, but do we really check what we purchase from local sweet shop, unless we fall violently sick? I may say, multinational products have a greater quality control because they have a lot to loose in case of bad publicity, and they follow certain procedure. But again, multinationals are not washed in milk and honey, they are here to do business and earn money.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. You guessed it right, Arv. It was a work trip. Don’t remember the name of the kachori but the taste was just simply awesome. It had very less oil too. Yes, next time if I go to Jaipur with some time in hand, would love to catch up with you.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree Diksha, all that is changing though with the availability of many European premium chocolates. People in our generation have far greater acceptance with these chocolates. Previously, it was reserved for kids . 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s true Arv, but festive atmosphere is incomplete until you find the aroma of frying or cooking sweets in the house. Me and my neighbors still follow old tradition of exchanging homemade sweets during festivals. Probably we are old fashioned. By the way, it was nice to read about your knowledge on chocolate.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Deeksha, I think I’m on your side. I don’t advocate chocolates because it doesn’t represent our culture and traditions. I certainly avoid commercial sweets. I guess you missed reading those lines which mentioned that I love homemade sweets. That’s our real spirit and tradition of Diwali! Next year, make some extra for me too! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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